I didn’t grow up in church. When I became a believer, it wasn’t muddled. One day I didn’t know Him. The next I did. Living as a believer was in stark contrast to the girl I was before faith.
That’s why my babies were on the pew when they were three days old. Bundled in pink or blue blankets, tucked close to my chest while I worshiped. They grew up knowing the secret hiding places in the building. They attended Bible quiz classes and were always on time for Sunday school.
It was exactly what I wish I had when I was a little girl.
It was exactly what made it a little more difficult for my children to sort through what they believed, and what were simply handed to them.
I wouldn’t do anything different. Our family was a family of faith. Worshiping God, giving back through service and offerings and investing in others was a way to partner with Him to love others and love God. We have rich memories of kneeling in the altar and sensing the presence and power of our Savior.
But it did create questions that were pressing.
Is Christianity different from other religions?
Is that feeling emotion or is it God?
Is there something more on the other side of faith?
What if everything I believed is wrong?
In some ways, their faith was chosen for them. The answers supplied before they were asked.
Oh friends, there were times that this mama’s heart was tangled in knots, but as we watch our children find answers, we can understand one thing:
Our personal faith journey is just that — personal
I’m not being glib, I promise.
You and I weren’t dragged to the foot of the cross. We willingly walked there. It is the same for our children.
Our heart might quake at some of the questions. We might ache at the thought that they might choose something other than the amazing love of Christ. There is a fear that they’ll choose nothing or something other than following Jesus.
Yet if they don’t ask the questions for themselves, will their faith mean anything when tested? None of us are exempt from hard places where our faith becomes our anchor or, if it’s been wrapped around church or tradition, it’s so shallow that we drown in its emptiness.
Maybe you’re in that same space. Your child has declared that they don’t believe, or they are asking hard questions and you didn’t see it coming.
What can a mama do?
Give them room to ask the hard stuff
Our child’s questions aren’t easily answered. Some of them simply had no black and white answer, not really. Yet it is important that they be given space to ask them.
It’s far easier to say “because I say so,” or “that’s what we’ve always been taught.” But does that work for you? It doesn’t for me.
In fact, pat answers simply shut down the conversation.
We don’t have to always have a tied-in-a-perfect-bow answer. We may share a story from our own experience. Sometimes the questions or doubts drive us to the Word to find the answers. Those conversations aren’t always easy, but they can be honest and deep.
In our culture, a believing child can’t just walk through their school doors and call themselves a Christian. They are scrutinized. Their beliefs are challenged, not just by students but by adults. If they somehow make it through high school in a safety zone, it’s blown away in college.
Giving space for questions provides a safe place, even if we don’t always have an answer.
We can trust that the Holy Spirit is stirring inside our child. We can trust that this is part of the journey to find truth. We can absolutely trust that God is big enough to withstand hard questions.
Now, this is the hard part. Sometimes they may walk away for a season. They may not understand the value of what they’ve always had until they experience life without Him. I wanted to leave this part out, because no mom wants to hear that.
But even in this space, there’s room for their questions, but more so there’s room for our God to partner with us as they ask them.
That brings us to the second, and most important thing we can do.
Don’t let your child’s doubt distract you from joy
Our children watch us. They listen.
Maybe you wonder if they see or hear you at all. Yet in their walk away from faith, they are watching in ways that we might not even catch.
The biggest question they might be asking is tied to our response to their doubts.
Do you believe, mom? Do you really believe?
If so, why are you so tied up in knots over my doubts? Why am I seeing angst rather than trust? Why am I hearing protests rather than your prayers?
Right now is the time to believe that God loves your child even more than you.
Right now is the opportunity to trust that God uniquely stamped your son or daughter’s name on the palm of His hand.
Right now is the moment to assure your child that God isn’t afraid of the tough stuff, or the tougher questions, and allow his doubts to confirm to you the beauty of knowing Him.
Right now is the time to find your own anchor and press in to up with peace and joy.
When your child looks at mom, they know that you love them and want nothing more than for them to follow Jesus.
But inexplainably, they see His love pouring from you. They see faith so deep that it’s not rocked, but rather radiates joy that can only come from Him. They see your smile. They see your belief. They see something so real that they are drawn to the God they see living so big on the inside of you.
And when they come to the end of their selves, they know exactly where to turn.
My children are now adults.
If you were to ask what they believe, their answers would reflect personal and deeply-held convictions.
They don’t look exactly like mine.
They don’t look exactly like the church in which they were raised.
They’re personal — discovered in a journey launched by doubts, honed by experience, and shaped by a God who always loved them.
If your child has walked away from his or her faith or they’re asking hard questions, we’d love to join in with you in encouragement and prayer.
We’ll believe with you and we’ll be here to celebrate with you when your child finds Him on a personal love that changes him or her forever.
This is the book I wrote during my child’s search for answers.
Making It Real: Whose Faith Is It Anyway? is available on Kindle.
It’s written for teens, but as a parent (or if you work with youth in any capacity) it offers insight into the questions that a teen or college student might be asking.
*When you purchase through this link, it helps support this ministry. Thank you!